Monday, May 18, 2009

Doctors as patients, part 1

It has often been said that the doctor's working in the hospital are the unhealthiest people within the whole hospital. I think I already made a reference to this in a previous post about doctors exercising. I think I can expand this thought and say that in general, doctors are horrible about taking care of their own health and make horrible patients.

I'm reminded of something that happened while I was in med school - one of the most respected surgeons at my hospital suddenly was diagnosed with lung cancer. He never smoked, it was just bad luck. He had been ignoring his symptoms for years and years, and even though he went through surgery and chemotherapy and his colleagues did everything possible to save him, he was dead within something like 4 months, which is very short, even for lung cancer.

I think there are a few reasons why doctors take such bad care of their own health. One is simply a time factor. When you work 80 hours a week, even if you only work 60 hours a week, it's hard to find time to go to a doctor or dentist appointment. Often, even the time you have off from work is spent catching up on the latest medical news or journal articles, which is necessary to stay current. Moreover, since most doctors have daytime working hours, it's nearly impossible to take time off during the day to make it to an appointment - you have to either cancel your own appointments, or arrange for coverage, both of which are costly, time-consuming and extremely inconvenient for you, your patients, and your colleagues.

Secondly, I think it's the medical culture. Even when doctors are deathly ill, they try to come into work unless it's a risk for their patients. This is partly because calling in sick means that you have to inconvenience your colleagues and your patients, and since doctors don't really get sick days, you have to make up the work at some later date, usually on a day off. Additionally, doctors like to be tough, and seem tough, and illness, even for doctors, is a sign of weakness. As a result, many doctors become trained to ignore their own symptoms, even when they are persistent or become serious.

Finally, many doctors feel that they can treat and diagnose themselves, and don't need to go in for an appointment, even though this is often not the case. By treating themselves, doctors again often ignore or miss important symptoms and miss out on getting valuable input or a second opinion from a colleague. Doctors tend to treat themselves very differently from their patients.

In the end, my point is that doctors need to take care of themselves as they tell their patients to do so. They need to go for their yearly checkups, screening tests, etc and not try to manage it all on their own, for their own sakes as well as to be good role models for their patients.

In a very different way, doctors can be bad patients even when they do seek medical advice... I think I'll leave that for another post...

6 comments:

elblot said...

You're not going to be like that, right?

Nadia said...

I totally agree with you

meenutoney said...

In MRI scanning, patients are placed inside a very large and strong magnet, so that all the protons in the atoms of the patient's body can be aligned to a magnetic field.
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Meniscus Tear said...

Nice post there is . You show a new thought and a new view. Doctors are trained in there profession and know that the tension is a main cause of every disease.

mrblack said...

In MRI scanning, patients are placed inside a very large and strong magnet, so that all the protons in the atoms of the patient's body can be aligned to a magnetic field.
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